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Funeral selfies a continuing trend on social media

It’s a picture perfect moment. Or is it?

A social media trend has people taking sides on whether or not it’s disrespectful.

The trend is biggest in Canada, but can be seen popping up around the U.S. It’s seen mostly on Twitter and Instagram. It’s #funeralselfie – people taking self portraits at funerals.

Pictures with the #funeralselfie include things like people on their way to funerals, people already sitting at a funeral service, some showing off their funeral outfit and yes, selfies at the casket.

Many people have commented on social media, saying this trend is disrespectful and inappropriate. Others disagree, saying the family often takes pictures at funerals. But some question whether or not here’s a line that shouldn’t be crossed. And what is that line?

Funder directors said it can be distracting and disrespectful to the family. Memorial services and funerals are times the family has set aside for them, and the public, to pay their respects to their loved one. They are mourning. Things like funeral selfies could be disruptive or offensive.

However, Brock Wilks with Wilks Funeral Home in Chubbuck, said photography and funerals have a long history. Maybe that trend is coming back. He said he feels that whether or not it’s disrespectful, it’s likely that those taking the selfies don’t intend it to be.

“In the Victorian era, people would set up staged photos with their loved one that’s passed away and the family would gather around the casket,” Wilks said. “I think the funeral selfies – this generation, or generation z, is kind of the social media generation. So that’s how they kind of relate to the world, that’s probably how they will kind of relate to death.”

Local funeral directors agree that cell phones in general have become a modern-day interruption.

“The best example I have is a couple of years ago, we had just closed the casket, everyone was closing their eyes and we were bowing our heads in prayer before we were going to start the service,” said Blake Hawker, a funeral director with Hawker Funeral Home in Blackfoot. “Low and behold, someone’s phone starts ringing and they didn’t just silence it, they actually took the phone call.”

Local funeral homes said when it comes to technology and funerals, the best advice is just to use common sense.

“Think about if it was your family member or close loved one of yours that it was their funeral service,” Hawker said. “How would you want someone to act at your service?”

As for selfies, Wilks said if you really feel the need or want to take pictures, ask for permission. And keep in mind one thing.

“If you’re posting them just to post a funeral selfie, not to commemorate a moment or anything like that, then I find that a little outside of the decorum that maybe we ought to follow,” Wilks said.

Both Wilks Funeral Home and Hawker Funeral Home said they can put up signs and ask for no pictures at all at the family’s request. They agreed it has become common practice now at funerals to ask everyone to turn off or at least silence their phones before the service begins.

“This is definitely something different than ten, sort of even five years ago,” Wilks said.

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